Saturday, March 17, 2018

Almond Progress

So I found myself back in California last week.  It's been three weeks since my last visit, and the almonds in the southern San Joaquin Valley had good leaf emergence now.  This is looking down the tree rows in one orchard.
 And this is a diagonal view, but there are still straight rows.  Within the orchard, the adjacent row has a tree planted mid-way between the trees of that  row.  More on orchard establishment coming up in a later post.  Pretty interesting.  Anyway, look at the ground.  See all the white petals?  This is the petal fall growth stage.  Good name.  It was like it was snowing.  But warmer.
But there are still flowers from later opening buds that need pollinating, as this bee is doing.  But the adjacent flowers have dropped their petals.  Recall from my previous visit that there were nighttime  temperatures below freezing.  There was concern on the effects of that on the flowers.
SAM Dylan is holding a pistil where the base is black indicating that it was killed by the frost.  Sorry the pic isn't better, but black is black...
 But that was the only one we found.  Here is a cross section of the ovary, green and growing.  A frost at this stage would be devastating as it is full of gel and would freeze and that would be the end of any almonds there.
Here is a bee at work.  I showed some hives in the earlier almond blog post.  I did a little reading on almonds and bees.  It seems that almond flowers have very little nectar.  The bees actually consume the nectar themselves, and any honey that is produced back in the hive is also consumed by them.  In fact, that honey is bitter, and the keepers don't collect it, but leave it for them to eat.  But they do a good job of pollinating. Further, researchers have found a specific bee attractant (amygdalin) in almond nectar to ensure pollination.  Interesting.
 Although he was busy, I asked this bee: "You taste nectar and pollen from all sorts of flowers.  If the nectar from trees that received AgroLiquid tastes better than that from other fertilizer, raise your hand."
Now who can argue with that?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Join the AgPack

So most computer pop-ups are annoying.  But there is one that really has value, and that's the RAM AGPACK, from Ram Trucks.  The AgPack is a collaboration with Ram Trucks that offers savings from several key ag supply companies, including AgroLiquid!  So make sure you give it a "click".
Heading up this program for AgroLiquid is Dale Ruff, who has been working with Ram Trucks to establish and promote this.  He has also been with the AgPack team at a variety of trade shows in the Ram Truck booth.  Here he is checking out the website in his official AgPack shirt.
So if you're in the market for a new truck, check out a Ram.  And when you select one, check out the AgPack savings.
Save thousands of $$ on things you could use anyway!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

First NCRS Employee Retires

So there was an employee retirement today, and we had a recognition lunch for him.  It was Dave Hines.  Dave is the Inventory Systems Manager, which has something to do with raw materials and product inventory.  That's him against the backrest enjoying his lunch today.
Dave has another important role for AgroLiquid.  Surely you have seen the AgroLiquid ads featuring a grower who has discovered the many virtues of using AgroLiquid.  Well that is Farmer Dave, who moonlights here at AgroLiquid.  In the commercials, he is interviewed by ace reporter Jenny.  Well Jenny stopped by for a final interview.  It appears that Farmer Dave had quite a humorous answer.
Of course there was a cake.
Eustaquia, who works with Dave, is too shy to cut the beautiful cake.  Especially with Dave watching.  But Dave was hungry and gave her the go ahead.  So she did and we all enjoyed some.
But probably not everyone knows that Farmer Dave really was a farmer back in 1994, the first year of the NCRS.  He and I worked hard to put in the first plots in the first research efforts there.  Now this was a much simpler time as far as equipment went.  We had two tractors, a JD 4230 for tillage and one seen here...a John Deere 750 which we used to pull our 3-row tool bar planter.  Now unlike today where you just punch your fertilizer rate into a monitor and it magically comes out right, we had to use speed and pressure.  So that meant hours calibrating with graduated cylinders and a stop watch to get all of the rates set for our test plots.  Here Dave is running the planter.

And no flow-controls on the sprayer either.  Hand calibration and use speed and pressure.  But we didn't know what was to come a few years later, and did a great job.  GPS were just letters of the alphabet.
That first year we did not have a plot combine, so I borrowed a stationary thrasher from MSU to harvest the bean crops. Here Dave runs some Navy Beans through the thrasher where they would fall into a drawer on the bottom and we would dump them out and weigh them.  For corn, we hand picked and weighed ears.  Yes it was a simpler time, but the results were no less accurate and meaningful.  You know, I think we will go back to all of these methods at the NCRS.  No! Of course not.  I'll never give up flow control and GPS guidance now.  But it gave us some great results right from the start.
Like in this graph from 1994 NCRS research showing how 5 gallons of Sure-K through the planter out-yielded 100 lb of broadcast potash in soybeans.  And after that Sure-K sales sky rocketed.  Well that's how I remember it anyway.  (And graphics have improved since putting a yellow filter on the camera and taking a picture of a graph for a slide.)
So thanks Dave, for your help those first two years of the NCRS and all that you did to support our fertilizers.  Researchers today have it easy.  It was fun to be a pioneer, wasn't it?  Although you did move into the plant after that.  Hmm.  But I'm sure the NCRS experience made you a better person and employee.  Well that's how I remember it anyway.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Turn On, Tune In...the Radio

From AgroLiquid internet news:

AgroLiquid on Ag PhD Radio

Did you know Ag PhD regularly features AgroLiquid experts on their daily radio program?  Ag PhD Radio is on Rural Radio Sirius XM channel 147 every weekday at 3 pm Eastern, 2 pm Central.  You 
can also access previous shows at

March 1 - Brady Boyd - Wheat Fertility and Application
March 14 - Aarron Stahl - N Stabilizers
March 15 - Jerry Wilhm - What to Put In-Furrow on Corn
March 21 - Tim Duckert - Calcium
March 28 - Stephanie Zelinko - Sunflower Production

So that is quite a line-up.  Hope you can tune in.  I haven't decided exactly what to talk about regarding What to Put In-Furrow on Corn.  Right now leaning towards fertilizer.  Make that: AgroLiquid Fertilizer.

More California Agricultural Sights

So if the almonds are flowering, they must be pollinated in order to produce nuts.  That means it time to call the work horses of the ag industry....well not horses, but bees.  There were hive boxes put out through the orchard to get the job done.  Although with the cold, hope they keep buzzing. 
 There are so many new acres of trees being planted all through the San Joaquin valley.  You see new orchards growing everywhere you look.  Growing nuts is good business, and good for you.  So do your part and eat some today!
 There are around 1.25 million acres of almonds in the state producing some 2.2 Billion pounds of nuts.  Well we know what happens to the almond nuts....we eat them.  But what about all of the hulls?  Well they are ground up and primarily used for livestock feed and bedding.  Hmmm. I've heard of almond milk, I guess they come from those cows.  (OK, that is not true.)  But here is a hull processing facility.  Look at the big pile.
 Of course not all trees are almond trees.  What are these?  OK I didn't know either.  We asked a guy out working. These are apricot trees.  I love apricot jam.
 Well what is going on here?  It looks like broccoli.  Well it is broccoli, but seed production.  It has to come from somewhere...and this is one place.  Again we asked a worker in the field.  I will say it's valuable traveling with Armando who speaks Spanish.
 Another opportunity we had was to attend the fundraising banquet of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association.  Wouldn't you know that AgroLiquid is a Platinum member.  It was good and they raised a lot of money for scholarships.  I was pleased that one of the recent winners is attending Oklahoma State University.  So the future is in good shape and money well spent!
 Well there was plenty of other meetings about fertilizer going into the season, but not so much of a picture opportunity.  But in months ahead we will see the progress of AgroLiquid performance.  
I show plenty of other people in the LAND of LIQUID, so I thought I close with a flowery picture of the author.  Don't I look optimistic?  Well I am.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Flowering Almond Trees in California

So I was in California last week on a fertilizer mission.  Had an opportunity to stop by the Stockton manufacturing plant.  It's been a few years since I was last here.  But now it is a full line manufacturer of AgroLiquid.  This is the AgroLiquid fertilizer source for all of the West, including Hawaii.  It's a large and impressive facility.  That's Site Manager Todd walking out toward the office building.
Ever wonder how big of a tank would be necessary to hold half a million gallons of Sure-K?  Well here is one.
 AgroLiquid is fortunate to have a number of fine Retail Partners throughout California.  One of the oldest is Stanislaus Farm Supply (in Stanislaus county).  This is the store in Modesto, South of Stockton.  This shows the many fine products you can get there.
 I was with Sales Account Manager Armando, and we met up with one of the Stanislaus agronomists Paul.  I met Paul a number of years ago, and from the beginning he has become an expert in using AgroLiquid in a variety of crops, like Almonds.   Here we are in a young (3rd leaf) orchard where he is in charge of the fertility.
 He recently planted a row on the field edge, and this is what the bigger trees looked like three seasons ago.  That's some growth.
 The next day we met up with Dylan, who is the Sales Account Manager for Southern CA.  We are in an orchard that is soon to receive AgroLiquid fertilizers PrG, Kalibrate and Micro 500.  (PrG?  That's Pro-Germinator's name in California.  Don't ask.)  The almonds all over are in full bloom, so it was a good week to come out.
 They sure are pretty in the sun.
 It was cold this week, which is not good news because there was threat of frost.  A lot of people had their fingers crossed.  Me too.
 Almonds are a big crop in California.  Almonds and Wine Grapes regularly compete for the top value crop in CA.  I say declare a truce and enjoy both.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Remembering That Tragic Day in Dallas

It's hard to believe that 2018 will mark the 55th anniversary of an American tragedy: the assassination of an American president in Dallas, Texas.  On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was killed by a sniper during a parade.  It really shook the country, if not the world, as he was young, 46, and popular with a wife and small children.
It turns out that the site was not far from where our summit meeting was last week.  So after the meeting was over on Thursday, a group of us made the several block walk down to Dealy Plaza where it happened.
Here is the former Texas School Book Depository where the sniper, Lee Harvey Oswald, did the shooting.  He was on the sixth floor and shot from the window on the far right.  There is a small white piece of paper to show his exact spot.  This building is still some local government building.  But on the sixth and seventh floors is a museum about the event.  Good call.  I couldn't imagine working on the sixth floor after that.
This is at the place called Dealey Plaza.  There is a description of what took place on the marker behind the guys.  The others are on the edge looking out on the street where the car was.
This is where it happened, X marks the spot.  He was shot twice.  There is another X a little ways away.  Real Kennedy assassination students will recall the Zapruder film.  That is a video shot by  parade watcher Abraham Zapruder that caught the bullets impact.  It was widely studied as evidence after the assassination took place.  He was actually standing on that white block extending outward on the left of that tall door-looking space.  And this is also the so-called "grassy knoll" where it was thought that there was a second shooter.  All these years later it has never been totally resolved to everyone's satisfaction that Oswald acted alone.  I think this is where the term "conspiracy theory" started.  Or took off. 
So of course we had to go through the museum.  Unfortunately you can't take pictures on the sixth floor.  It has a pictorial history of the Kennedy election and events leading up to the assassination, and then the aftermath.  They actually have the corner where Oswald acted walled off with glass, and left exactly as it was.  This picture was taken from the same corner of the building, but on the seventh floor where you can take pictures.  So the parade procession came from the street on the left between the two red brick buildings, and turned this way onto Houston Street.  Then a short distance to that crosswalk, where they turned left onto Elm Street.  That brick building back on the left and the lighter one next to it is the county jail where they took Oswald after he was arrested that same day.  And two days later he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby in that building as he was being taken to county jail.  It too was caught on film.  And this all added to the conspiracy theory.  That white fountain across the street is Dealey Plaza where we were earlier.
And this is looking down Elm Street where Oswald aimed and sent his lethal shots.  You can see an X on the street.  Of course the trees are much larger now.  But this is the view.  Immediately after, the limousine convertible sped ahead to a nearby hospital.
This is an actual flag that flew at half staff over the U.S. capitol.  They had a picture of it flying back then.  It is a large flag going nearly from floor to ceiling in this tall room. 
So that was an interesting visit into history.  I was 7 years old when that happened.  I really don't remember much other than the quiet sorrow it put over everyone around.  Of course I knew all about it later growing up.  But I never thought I would actually ever be where it happened.  There were a number of people at the plaza and in the museum, so it's still something important even now.  And the Agro group I was with was aware of what happened here and who it was, even though most were born years later. So that's good.  Even Zouheir, who was a youngster in Syria when it happened was familiar with this part of American history.  Interesting.  That picture of Jack and Jackie Kennedy at the top was from the seventh floor and also went from floor to ceiling.  It was a very moving experience to see this place.